Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that involves the use of electronic communications to deceive and take advantage of users. Phishing attacks attempt to gain sensitive information like usernames, passwords, credit card information, etc. It occurs when an attacker acts as a legitimate individual or institution through phone or email, trying to manipulate or trick victims into performing specific actions, such as clicking on a malicious link or downloading infected attachments. Phishing scams can target both individuals and organizations because any kind of data can be valuable.
Types of Phishing Attacks
Phishing attacks vary pending on the target victim(s).
• Spear Phishing
This type of phishing attack targets a specific person or enterprise. The attacker tries to gather as much information as possible about their targets to fill emails with more authentic context.
• Clone Phishing
As it implies, the attacker tries to make a nearly identical copy of previously delivered email messages. Then try to change a link or attachment to something malicious.
This is another type of phishing attack that specifically targets high-profile individuals or senior executives in an organization. The content of a whaling phishing email will often be presented as a legal communication or other high-level executive business.
How to Prevent Phishing Attacks
Steps to be taken by both individuals and organizations to prevent phishing attacks.
For individuals, vigilance is the key. A spoofed message mostly contains subtle mistakes, such as spelling errors or changes to domain names. You should stop and try to think about why you are receiving such emails.
Organizations should educate employees on how to prevent phishing attacks, especially on how to recognize suspicious emails, links, and attachments.
Some features of email phishing include:
• Unusual or unknown sender
• Offers that seem too good to be true
• Poor spelling and grammar
• Threats of account shutdown, Especially when it requires urgency
• Links, particularly when the destination URL (Domain name) is different than it appears in the email content
• Unusual attachments, especially ending with a .exe file extension
Other security measures can include:
• Two Factor Authentication (2FA): This refers to adding an extra verification layer when logging into sensitive applications. It’s an effective method for countering phishing attacks. 2FA deals with two things: something you know, such as a username and password, and something you have, such as a smartphone.
• Email filters that use machine learning and natural language processing to flag high-risk email messages. DMARC protocol can also prevent email spoofing.